by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
A Korean American author may be deported to the U.S. for allegedly making pro-North Korea comments, reports the Associated Press.
Local conservative groups have accused Shin Eun-mi, 54, of sympathizing with Pyongyang and propagandizing the regime’s ideals alongside her co-host during a talk show tour. According to TIME, Shin reportedly said during a November lecture that many North Korean defectors living in South Korea told her that they wished to return home and that North Koreans hope for change under the new leadership of Kim Jong-un. She also praised the cleanliness of the Hermit Kingdom’s rivers and the taste of North Korean beer.
During another lecture in December, an 18-year-old high school student threw a homemade bomb at her, injuring three people.
Shin had planned to return to Los Angeles on Dec. 12, but was barred from leaving the country after she refused to appear for police questioning, according to Yonhap. Since then, the Seoul police have questioned the author and requested prosecutors to formally indict her. Prosecutors, however, called the Korean Immigration Service on Thursday to deport Shin for violating South Korea’s National Security Law. Once deported, she will be banned from entering South Korea for five years.
Shin told reporters on Wednesday that she had no intention of praising the North Korean government and denied breaching the anti-Pyonyang security law. She also said her memoir, Korean-American Ajumma Goes to North Korea, is purely a travelogue and does not include any pro-North remarks.
While conservative groups have supported the prosecutors’ decision to deport Shin, others have criticized the country’s security law and called it an infringement to the freedom of speech.
“The decision to deport her is a clear violation of human rights,” the Hankyoreh newspaper said in an editorial on Friday. “The government is taking the lead in trampling on human rights.”
Meanwhile, prosecutors are also considering seeking an arrest warrant for Shin’s talk show co-host, Hwang Sun, for the same charges. According to the Korea Herald, Hwang is the former deputy spokeswoman of the now-defunct Democratic Labor Party and is famous for giving birth to her second child in Pyongyang back in 2005.
Featured photo courtesy of Yonhap